A Galway scientist is leading a US Army project to develop a new COVID-19 vaccine that is currently undergoing clinical trials. 

Dr. Gordon Joyce, who is head of structural biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research outside Washington, DC, is one of the lead scientists on the US Army's project to develop a vaccine that targets multiple variants of COVID-19. 

He told RTÉ News that he hopes that the "pan-coronavirus" vaccine will be able to work against all kinds of coronaviruses.

"We're very focussed on getting a Covid-19 vaccine out in the next year, but this type of response is also a framework and provides a platform going forward for our efforts to develop a vaccine against all coronaviruses," Joyce told RTÉ News.

Certain coronaviruses can cause the common cold, while there is also the potential of future COVID outbreaks, and Joyce said that the US Army vaccine was an opportunity to protect against future outbreaks and pandemics. 

"We now have the opportunity to get ahead of future outbreaks and to generate a vaccine that can be protective against all coronaviruses," he told RTÉ News. 

The Galway scientist had previously conducted research into HIV and influenza, while he had been working on a vaccine for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - a different type of coronavirus - prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. 

Clinical trials for the US Army vaccine began as COVID-19 cases rose in the United States for the third week in succession despite an overwhelmingly positive vaccination roll-out that has seen roughly 180 million doses of the vaccine administered in the country. 

An average of 3.1 million shots is currently being administered every day in America as President Joe Biden attempts to deliver on his promise of 200 million doses in his first 100 days in office. 

However, hospital admissions rose by 4% in the week ending April 4, ending an 11-week streak of falling admissions.